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MYOPIC GOVERNMENTS BLAMED FOR GLOBAL TRADE PROBLEMS

 MYOPIC GOVERNMENTS BLAMED FOR GLOBAL TRADE PROBLEMS
 WASHINGTON, D.C., May 13 /PRNewswire/ -- What's the major cause


of global trade problems among the advanced nations of the world? Their own myopic governments.
 That's the opinion of business executives, particularly American, in a comprehensive international survey conducted by Industry Week magazine. The survey, believed to be the first of its kind, revealed that business executives see the virtues of free trade far more clearly than most governments do.
 Results of the survey were presented today at a press preview at the National Press Club. Industry Week's May 18 issue will feature a special report on the survey and the issues surrounding international trade fairness.
 "No topic is so distorted by emotion as international trade," said George A. Weimer, executive editor of Industry Week.
 Seeking answers to a central question -- Is the global playing field tilted against U.S. firms? -- Industry Week polled industry executives in four nations, the United States, Japan, France and Germany.
 American executives responded overwhelmingly that the playing field was tilted with nearly 80 percent charging that U.S. companies are at a competitive disadvantage in world trade, primarily because of restrictions limiting U.S. access to foreign markets. They also pointed to the need for more investment tax incentives for U.S. industry and for fewer OSHA and EPA regulatory restrictions.
 Without such action, they anticipate a continuing erosion of American trade.
 Different View Overseas
 The view from across the oceans differs radically. Only 8 percent of French executives polled, 15 percent of the Japanese and 17 percent of the Germans believe American firms are unfairly handicapped. However, 30 percent of the respondents in France and 20 percent in Japan acknowledge that government-support of their own industries puts American firms at a competitive disadvantage in the U.S. market.
 Most American executives lament the lack of such support from their own government. Most of those sampled -- 56 percent -- rated U.S. government trade support efforts as "poor." The government, they say, is simply not doing its job in protecting U.S. industry from unfair foreign competition.
 Noted the president of a filtrations systems company, "Today's U.S. government is the only government in the world not to enforce its own trade laws and, consequently, sees its basic American industries disappear. The rest of the world can't believe we want to commit economic suicide. We are the laughing stock in the world of commerce."
 Said a top executive of a packaging machinery firm, "In the U.S., needs of the business sector are sacrificed to the expedience of politics. In Japan, business is king and politics the servant."
 A third executive added, "We have never been able to separate the State Department from the Commerce Department."
 Cite U.S. Restrictions
 On the other hand, the U.S. is not exactly perceived by overseas executives as the world's largest free trade zone. Nearly 70 percent of French survey respondents, 57 percent of Germans and 40 percent of Japanese contend the U.S. is as guilty as some other countries of curbing imports through voluntary restraint agreements on autos, steel and textile products. French executives also cite U.S. subsidies for the agricultural and aeronautical industries.
 While most countries are vociferously in favor of free trade, precious little evidence of unrestricted trade in its pure form can be found anywhere. As part of the survey, Industry Week selected four widely-used products for study -- automobiles, bluejeans, cellular phones and airplanes -- and tracked their course from factory to consumer. The findings:
 Automobiles -- Picture this: A Chrysler Jeep Cherokee selling in Japan for roughly the same price as a $40,000 Lexus LS400 in the U.S. Or an $18,000 Chrysler LeBaron selling for $33,000 in Japan. Clearly, as the survey notes, there are impediments facing U.S. car makers in Japan markets not seen by Japanese car makers in the U.S.
 In Europe, the 12-nation European Community and Japan agreed to a plan in 1991 to control Japanese penetration of European markets by allowing Japanese imports to rise from the current 12 percent share to a 16 percent share by 1999. The lesson here is that Japan and Europe have taken far stronger steps to protect their market than the U.S. has.
 Bluejeans -- The worldwide market shows minimal trade obstructions, the result of the overwhelming popularity of American- made jeans. The demand for jeans overrides any trade barrier considerations.
 Cellular Phones -- In this high growth market, manufacturers face complicated certification processes in selling to other advanced nations. Japan, in particular, is highly regulated.
 Motorola's experience in selling its cellular phones in Japan is especially revealing. Allowed to sell in one region of the country, Motorola was denied access to the important Tokyo-Nagoya business corridor, until Japan's technology caught up to Motorola's, thereby blunting its competitive edge.
 Airplanes -- As a result of the expertise and technology developed in defense work, the U.S. dominates this market. However, European competition is increasing due to previously heavy government subsidies to the Airbus consortium established by the four largest European aerospace companies. Subsidies are now being reduced significantly to the approval of U.S. producers. Japan, meanwhile, has been content to serve as a parts sub-contractors for the major U.S. and European players.
 In general, said Weimer, the survey disclosed an optimistic view of trade as a natural connection between peoples of different nations. If left relatively unimpeded by government policies, he noted, international trade is the vehicle to "bring the most good to the most people in the shortest time."
 As a result, he urged that the continuing debate here and abroad about unfair trade practices be conducted in a more reasoned manner and with a global perspective. To accomplish this, Weimer called for more extensive media reporting of the trade debate, with detailed coverage of what happens to merchandise as it moves across national borders.
 -0- 5/13/92
 /CONTACT: Charles R. Day, Jr. of Industry Week, 216-696-7000/ CO: Industry Week ST: Ohio IN: SU:


KK -- CL018 -- 9800 05/13/92 15:01 EDT
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